As Senators on both side of the aisle promptly killed the "watered-down, over-compromised" Manchin-Toomey gun safety bill Wednesday, onlookers declared "shame" on the dissenting legislators vowing that this moment will not be forgotten come next election period.
The significantly weakened bipartisan proposal, which would have required instant criminal background checks for guns bought off the internet or at gun shows, failed by a vote of 54-46.
As the results were read out, Patricia Maisch—a survivor of the mass shooting in Tucson—shouted "Shame on you" from the visitors gallery where she had been seated alongside grieving Newtown families.
"The outcome of today’s votes is a stain on the reputation of the U.S. Senate and insulting to victims and survivors of gun violence nationwide," announced the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence in a statement following the vote.
Swearing retribution, they added, "with today’s recorded votes, we will be able to inform Americans exactly which legislators are prioritizing the grade they are getting from the NRA over the safety of their constituents."
Echoing their promise, Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, vowed to "work to make sure that those Senators who refuse to represent the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans on this crucial issue are replaced with others who will."
This is an insult to the 90 people killed by gun violence every day and the 90 percent of Americans who believe that felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerous mentally ill should not be able to buy guns without a background check, no questions asked. The Senate failed to pass something that virtually all Americans support and would undoubtedly make this a safer nation.
Polls show that 90 percent of Americans favor background checks on firearm purchases. Following the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., gun control advocates hoped that the subsequent shock and mourning and widespread dismay at the state of gun control would overpower the National Rifle Association's long-held governmental influence.
Mark Barden, whose 7-year-old son, Daniel, was one of the twenty school children killed at Newton's Sandy Hook Elementary School, issued the following statement expressing his dismay at the legislators who had pledged sympathy and then voted otherwise:
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Two weeks ago, twelve of us from Newtown came to meet with U.S. Senators and have a conversation about how to bring common sense solutions to the issue of gun violence. We came with a sense of hope, optimistic that a real conversation could begin that would ultimately save the lives of so many Americans.
We met with dozens of Democrats and Republicans, and shared with them pictures of our children, spouses and parents, who lost their lives on December 14th. Expanded background checks wouldn’t have saved our loved ones but still we came to support a bi-partisan proposal [...] – a common sense proposal supported by 90% of Americans.
We return home for now, disappointed but not defeated. We return home with a determination that change will happen, maybe not today but soon.
"This is a pretty shameful day for Washington," President Obama said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon outside the White House, where he stood flanked by former congresswoman Gabby Giffords and parents of Newtown victims. He attacked Republicans and the NRA, claiming they had "wilfully lied" about the background check proposal saying that "a minority of senators" had made the decision that "it wasn't worth it to protect children's lives," the Guardian reports.
"They blocked commonsense gun reform while these [Newtown] families looked on from the Senate gallery," he said.
In practice, the bill lost by a 55-45 vote, since Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly voted ‘no’ for "procedural reasons."
The four other Democrats who voted against include Max Baucus (Mont.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.). Four Republicans voted in favor: Susan Collins (Maine), Mark Kirk (Ill.), John McCain (Ariz.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.).
However, the bill was ultimately defeated by the loss of "10 others who had been in favor of at least allowing a debate on the bill withdrew their support in the 48 hours leading up to a vote," the Guardian reports.